Thousands protest Israel coalition deal on eve of court date

A woman holds a poster of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, and Benny Gantz, left, that read ‘a government with 36 ministers? Where is the shame?’ during a protest against the government and the corruption, at Rabin square, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Saturday, May 2, 2020. (AP/Ariel Schalit)
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Updated 02 May 2020

Thousands protest Israel coalition deal on eve of court date

  • Netanyahu last month reached a power-sharing deal with his chief rival, Benny Gantz
  • Protesters criticize the deal since it leaves Netanyahu in power as he prepares to go on trial for corruption charges

TEL AVIV, Israel: Several thousand Israelis took to the streets in Tel Aviv on Saturday night, demonstrating against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new coalition deal with his chief rival a day before the country’s Supreme Court is to begin debating a series of legal challenges to the agreement.
Demonstrators gathered for the third consecutive weekend in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square, standing more than two meters (six feet) apart in organized rows to conform with social-distancing rules to protect against the spread of the coronavirus.
Netanyahu last month reached a power-sharing deal with his chief rival, Benny Gantz. Protesters criticize the deal since it leaves Netanyahu in power as he prepares to go on trial for corruption charges.
“Shame! Shame!” chanted the protesters. One of the posters showed a picture of Netanyahu and Gantz with the slogan, “We Say No to a Corruption Government.”
Under the deal, Netanyahu and Gantz agreed to share the premiership, with Netanyahu serving as prime minister the first 18 months and Gantz serving the next 18 months. It also includes a clause to advance plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank, including Israeli settlements, starting July 1.
Saturday’s protest was organized by the Movement for Quality Government in Israel, one of the advocacy groups that has filed a legal challenge to the country’s Supreme Court. Smaller protests were also taking place in other cities across Israel.
The groups are asking the high court to ban any indicted politician, including Netanyahu, from being allowed to form a new government. They also say that parts of the coalition deal are illegal.
If the court strikes down the coalition deal, Israel could be plunged into a fourth consecutive election in just over 12 months.


‘Provocative’ Erdogan to drill for oil off Libya

Updated 31 May 2020

‘Provocative’ Erdogan to drill for oil off Libya

  • Turkey claims an agreement gives it the right to explore for oil and gas in an exclusive economic zone

JEDDAH: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan plans to create a “fait accompli” over rights to natural resources in the eastern Mediterranean by drilling off the coast of Libya, analysts told Arab News on Saturday.

Ankara’s announcement that it intends to activate last year’s maritime borders agreement with the Libyan government in Tripoli has brought simmering tensions to the boil.   

Turkey claims the agreement gives it the right to explore for oil and gas in an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) between its southern coast and Libya’s northeastern coast. However, Greece, Cyprus and the EU say the deal is illegal. Turkey may also face EU sanctions over drilling in Cypriot territorial waters.

Ankara has not said exactly where it will drill, but experts told Arab News they expect exploration activities to begin off Tripoli in the short term, and then near to the coastal city of Sirte.

“From a tactical point of view, Turkey may test the scenario of a crisis with Athens where escalation takes place and then, in the context of de-escalation, the two countries would have to discuss and negotiate their positions,” said Zenonas Tziarras, a researcher at PRIO Cyprus Centre.

Mona Sukkarieh, a political risk consultant and co-founder of Middle East Strategic Perspectives, said: “If we take Turkish operations off the Cypriot coast as an indicator, operations off the Libyan coast might start off on the less provocative part of the spectrum and grow bolder with time toward the more provocative part of the spectrum.

“The objective is to demonstrate a resolute determination in order to extract concessions or, at the very least, to impose itself as a player to reckon with.”